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Making it big - Josh Hart talks ahead of Nick Ahad's Glory

Posted on 26 March 2019

Meet Dan – “an avid northern wrestler” with dreams of making it big and escaping his family’s takeaway business. Dan is one of three characters compelled over the ropes and into the wrestling ring in Nick Ahad’s gutsy new play Glory.

But for Dan and his fellow wrestlers Ben and Sami, fighting isn’t just confined to Glory’s Gym where they all train – each of these young men has their own demons to wrestle with in real-life, with the controlled combat that they consciously engage in acting as a release for pent-up anger and emotion.

Ahead of the show’s arrival in Coventry 10-13 April, actor Josh Hart told us more about his character and how the story resonates with his own experiences.

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Tell us about your character in Glory.

I play Dan, an avid northern wrestler who perfectly lives out the stereotype of a British Chinese male. He works in his family’s takeaways, he doesn’t have many friends but he does have a goal. Dan’s goal is to make it big, but he wants to do it his way.

How would you sum up Dan’s struggle in the play?

Dan has a few struggles within the play. Jim wants him to try and make it as a heel, a bad boy, because of the way he looks. In Jim’s eyes, Dan can never be a babyface because he doesn’t have blonde hair and blue eyes but Dan refuses to back down. All of his life he has seen these heel type people come into his life and try and mess things up, and he tries anything to stop him being associated with them.

Dan’s family have clearly had a hard time in the past, and I think he carries a lot of the burden on his shoulders. His memories are built on aggression and non-acceptance, which frustrates him more than anything. Wrestling is a way for Dan to escape the world he lives in and try and live out the person he has always envisioned himself to be.

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Tell us a bit about your own background.

I currently live in central Manchester, but as a child, I was brought up in Forest Hall near Newcastle. For most of my school years I lived in Hexham, a small town in Northumberland before coming to Lancaster and Wigan to continue with my training.

Are there any issues regarding ethnicity and/or identity addressed in Glory that resonate with you on a personal level?

The stories and memories that Dan has of his family and the abuse that they have endured almost echoes some of the stories that my mum has told me of her family household growing up. The long hours working after school, racial abuse they would get, lack of opportunity, fending for yourself and sticking up for yourself. As Dan I almost feel myself in my mum or my uncle’s shoes, trying to look after a frail old Chinese family in a place that doesn’t want them there.

The racism within the play really resonates with me. When I was younger and moved to Northumberland, there was not a lot of diversity in the town, so being the only mixed-race kid on the playground I was prone to receive a few comments. The language used by the schoolkids is almost echoed by the characters within the play and just shows how much people are still intimidated by difference, no matter the age.

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Do you think more needs to be done to improve diversity on our stages?

Yes, there is definitely a lack of diversity on stage, and especially in the North. I rarely see a BAE [British East Asian] on stage and any opportunities that have come my way have all been based down South. I would say things are getting better though, with more opportunities coming all the time.

Do you follow wrestling or have any connection with the sport?

I used to follow wrestling quite a lot growing up. My mates and I would try and re-enact the moves in the garden. I used to love Rey Mysterio and his incredible spins and acrobatic moves. I watched wrestling less and less often as I got older, but I still enjoy it on occasion.

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*British wrestling arguably remains a very male-centric sport. Do you think female audiences will find it easy to connect with this show? *

Glory is not just about men fighting and being macho, it has many layers that men and women will be able to connect with. Each character has had their own struggles and has felt pain in their lives, and it’s these struggles that people can relate to, and can engross themselves in the journey of overcoming them.

Bonus question – if you could pick a wrestling name, what would it be? And would you be a Babyface or Heel?

It would probably be the name that was given to me by my Chinese Grandparents/ Phonetically – Sam Seeu Leuurng, or ‘Little Dragon’ as it translates to. I think I would be a hero but there is something exciting about being the villain!

Glory is produced by Red Ladder Theatre and The Dukes Lancaster as part of Tamasha’s IGNITE programme, and shows at the Belgrade Theatre 10-13 April. Tickets are available to book now.

Glory